Cello first position – notes on the A string and D string
Welcome back! Today I’m writing about the left hand, which presses down the strings on the fingerboard to change the pitch of the strings.
Back story: If you look inside a piano, or indeed at the strings of a harp, you will see that they are all different lengths. When a string is longer its vibrations are slower and the sound is lower. When a string is shorter – the opposite is true.
Longer -> slower -> lower
Shorter -> faster -> higher
With me so far?
With the cello, the same principle applies. As you shorten the strings, by way of pushing them down on the fingerboard, the pitch gets higher. And the first hand position we will look at is called first position.
This tutorial seems to explain first position quite well.
(Stop watching at 4:11 – the intonation exercise is not one that I would recommend for my students.)
This exercise is a simple one that can be used on all strings to locate the notes in first position (it can really be used anywhere on the cello to locate any note, truth be told).
Start with your first finger resting on the nut. Play the open string (any string) and slowly slide your finger up until you find the note a tone higher than the open string. It will help if you have a piano nearby to first play the note so you can hear it first (a tuner will do as well).
Repeat this exercise with your second, third and fourth fingers to find the next three semitones, respectively.